Yogi Berra, 1925-2015


“I really didn’t say everything I said.” — Yogi Berra


This Says a Lot

Congress, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

Catholic Congress Critter Paul Gosar (R-Arizona) explains why he’s boycotting the Pope when His Holiness addresses the House of Representatives:

Many believed, like I did, that this was an opportunity for the Pope to be one of the world’s great religious advocates and address the current intolerance of religious freedom. An opportunity to urgently challenge governments to properly address the persecution and execution of Christians and religious minorities; to address the heinous and senseless murders committed by ISIS and other terrorist organizations. An opportunity to address the enslavement, belittlement, rape and desecration of Christian women and children; to address the condoned, subsidized, intentionally planned genocide of unborn children by Planned Parenthood and society; and finally, an opportunity for His Holiness to refocus our priorities on right from wrong.

Gore, sex, death, Islamophobia and more sex and death, plus persecution. Who wouldn’t be quivering with anticipation?

Media reports indicate His Holiness instead intends to focus the brunt of his speech on climate change.

Jeez, Popes can be buzzkills sometimes.

More troubling is the fact that this climate change talk has adopted all of the socialist talking points, wrapped false science and ideology into “climate justice” and is being presented to guilt people into leftist policies.

“Leftist” policies like taking care of the poor and the earth?

If the Pope stuck to standard Christian theology, I would be the first in line.  If the Pope spoke out with moral authority against violent Islam, I would be there cheering him on. If the Pope urged the Western nations to rescue persecuted Christians in the Middle East, I would back him wholeheartedly. But when the Pope chooses to act and talk like a leftist politician, then he can expect to be treated like one.

There’s theology, and then there’s other theology. I say to those who take delight in wallowing in persecution porn and fomenting hate speech against those tagged as an “enemy” might want to read their Bibles — Matthew 5:43-46

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?”

Yeah, we all know ISIS and other violent extremists in the Middle East are really awful and doing bad things. Standing on the other side of the world and bloviating about it doesn’t so much as butter toast, however. On the other hand, ratcheting down the wrathful rhetoric might make a small contribution toward slowing the spread of radicalization.

Anti-Christian persecution is really happening in the Middle East, and it’s genuinely terrible. ISIS is behind much of it. But, let’s see, where did ISIS come from … oh, a U.S. military prison? As an unintended consequence of the U.S. invasion of Iraq? Maybe we’re not the ones to talk. And, anyway, there’s little we can do about it, from what I see. Making speeches about how awful it is won’t change a thing. And Pope Francis has spoken out against it already.

And don’t get me started on why the allegations against Planned Parenthood are a hoax.

Instead, His Holiness will lecture the U.S. House on global climate change, which is actually happening in spite of the Right’s dogged efforts to pretend otherwise.

What is it about global climate change that’s different than Islamic violence, the persecution of Christians, and something alleged about Planned Parenthood that isn’t happening?

The U.S. could actually do something about global climate change, that’s what.

In other words, His Holiness wants Congress to do something. What a concept.


Why CEOs Shouldn’t Be President

Bad Hair, Republican Party

Not that Fiorina was much of a CEO — no one has offered her a  CEO job since she left HP in 2005 — but this to me screams out loud why being a CEO and a POTUS are two different things —

Carly Fiorina said Sunday that neither she nor Hewlett-Packard should be faulted for the sales of millions of HP printers in Iran when such business was prohibited by U.S. law.

Appearing on Fox’s Fox News Sunday, Fiorina said that despite being the CEO of HP when the Iranian sales took place via a third party, she was unaware of them. …

… “In fact, the SEC investigation proved that neither I nor anyone else in management knew about it…” she insisted, adding,  “…when the company discovered this three years after I left, they cut off all ties. The SEC investigated very thoroughly and concluded that no one in management was aware.”

A 2008 Boston Globe investigation found that, while U.S. companies were banned from selling goods to Iran, an Indian company in Dubai called Redington Gulf had sold HP printers there. They sold them so well, in fact, that HP had 41 percent market share in Iran by 2007. Redington Gulf obtained the printers through a European subsidiary.

Wallace asked Fiorina why HP had named Redington Gulf its “Wholesaler of the Year” award in 2003 if the company wasn’t aware of its sales to Iran, Fiorina again deflected blame.

It’s possible Fiorina wasn’t aware of how Redington Gulf made its sales, because that’s not the sort of thing a CEO has to worry about. Sales are sales.

(However, according to a 2004 article in Forbes, Fiorina’s HP was one of the companies that knowingly — or, at least, they must have known — shipped products to Dubai to be re-exported into Iran. Halliburton was another company named, of course. This practice was openly winked at even as the companies in question denied they ever sold goods to Iran.)

A POTUS has to have a more, shall we say, nuanced view of the world, in all of its complexities. And a POTUS is held responsible for things a CEO can get away with denying.

JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, not someone on my most admired list by any stretch, did say something insightful awhile back. When asked if a CEO’s skills would make someone a good President, he said, “It’s not sufficient. I think you have a whole ‘nother set of attributes. I think it’s really complex — politics. It’s three-dimensional chess.”

And if politics is three-dimensional chess, foreign policy is 12-dimensional chess. Businesses, even big corporations, operate within relatively narrow parameters – – cost, profit, cash flow, sales figures. CEOs don’t have to worry about whether selling widgets to France will cause a war with Spain. Presidents do.

Back when Mittens was running for POTUS, it struck me that he is probably very shrewd but not intelligent. By that I mean he seems to have a knack for calculating how to wring every dollar out of a business venture. But how does he understand history? How does he understand the causes of poverty, or the dynamics of race, or why certain wetlands have to be protected from development, or what it’s really like to be poor and have no health insurance? I very much doubt those things were even on his radar.

The purpose of a corporation is to make money for the investors. And if you have to wreck the environment or move jobs overseas and screw your employees in the process, that’s okay in the business world. The purpose of a government is to support fairness, justice and a decent standard of living for its citizens. And by “support a decent standard of living” I don’t mean hand out welfare, but to enable citizens to be self-supporting by preventing the malefactors of great wealth from exploiting the hell out of them, and to enable upward mobility through things like education and public health policies.

These two purposes are completely at odds with each other, and I don’t think the CEO presidential wannabees grasp that. Or, if they do grasp it, they don’t care. Winning the White House would be the ultimate “regulatory capture.” Why be content with getting industry-friendly executives appointed to federal regulatory agencies, when you can take over the entire executive branch?

Further, CEOs are tyrants. They exercise power largely through intimidation. David Corn wrote of Carly Fiorina,

At HP, Fiorina developed the reputation of a manager who knocked heads together—or who chopped them off. And there were massive layoffs during her tenure. In 2003, the company announced it would dismiss almost 18,000 people. (That year, the firm posted a $903 million loss on $56.6 billion in revenue.) When the outsourcing of jobs turned into a national political issue, Fiorina became the poster-girl for an industry campaign aimed at blocking any legislation that would restrict a company’s ability to can American employees in favor of workers overseas. She and executives from seven other tech companies issued a report that argued that any such measures would hurt the U.S. economy. The best way to increase American competitiveness, they declared, was to improve schools and, yes, reduce taxes. At a Washington press conference, Fiorina said, “There is no job that is America’s God-given right anymore. We have to compete for jobs.” The remark did not go over well with critics of outsourcing, who have ever since used it as an indicator of corporate insensitivity.

Note that candidate Fiorina already is promising to lay off government workers. It’s what she knows how to do.

Presidents, in contrast, have highly restricted powers. And they can’t fire Supreme Court justices. One of Fiorina’s excuses for her failures at HP is that the Board of Directors was hard to work with, and there may be some truth in that. But, my dear, have you seen Congress lately?

Nor do CEOs concern themselves with coming up with plans — that’s what the help is for. Note that Fiorina’s official campaign web site doesn’t have a “Carly on the Issues” section. It’s all about her resume, not her policy ideas. (Donald Trump has recently added a “positions” section to his, although the only two issues he addresses are 2nd amendment rights and immigration.)

(I am reminded of the Ultimate Donald Rumsfeld memo. This is what you get with a CEO secretary of defense.)

I’m not going to look at every presidential candidate website, but I will note that Bernie Sanders has an extensive issues section that would take someone a while to read.

Right now Trump and Fiorina are one and two in the Republican polls. At least Scott Walker seems out of the running; that’s some comfort.


War on Women Update

abortion, Republican Party

Gail Collins on House Republicans versus Planned Parenthood:

The House Judiciary Committee has been investigating the matter with lawyerly precision, starting with a hearing titled: “Planned Parenthood Exposed: Examining the Horrific Abortion Practices at the Nation’s Largest Abortion Provider.” In a further effort to offer balance and perspective, the committee did not invite Planned Parenthood to testify.

(Coming soon: The House Committee on Energy and Commerce prepares to welcome Pope Francis with a hearing on “Papal Fallibility: Why He’s Totally, Completely and Utterly Off Base About Global Warming.”)

Yesterday the House voted, mostly on party lines, to defund Planned Parenthood. That was a move meant to mollify the Scorched Earth crowd, who are determined to force another government shutdown on the issue.

Republican leaders don’t want such a shutdown, possibly because a recent poll showed that 71 percent of Americans don’t want another shutdown over Planned Parenthood. Even a small majority of Republicans don’t want it. Government shutdowns are a well-trodden path to Loserville for Republicans. So the vote was supposed to let the fire-eaters vent by voting for a bill that won’t become law. Whether this will settle them down remains to be seen.

We should brace for an uptick in women’s health clinic violence, which will not be limited to abortion clinics:

A summer of increasingly hysterical rhetoric aimed at Planned Parenthood culminated over the weekend in what appears to be a terrorist attack on a clinic in a small town in Eastern Washington. At 3:30 a.m. on Friday, the Planned Parenthood of Pullman—subject to a huge protest recently—caught fire in what investigators are deeming an arson. The damage was extensive enough to close down the clinic for at least a month. A federal anti-terrorism task force has been called in to investigate.

Anti-abortion terrorism is nothing new, of course, but at this point, it’s worth asking if “anti-abortion” is too narrow a term. After all, the clinic in question did not offer abortion. Nor was the Aug. 22 protest at the clinic, which drew an estimated 500 people, really about abortion. The protesters, who were part of a nationally organized series of actions against Planned Parenthood, were demanding the end of funding for contraception and other nonabortion service

 They’re really against health care for women. Compare/contrast to the Taliban in Afghanistan awhile back, which infamously cut women off from health care by declaring women could not be examined by male doctors while banning female doctors from their practices. Pry this hysteria down to its root, and you’ll find fear and loathing of female sexuality.

One of the Right’s favorite fictions is that if funding were cut off from Planned Parenthood, all kinds of other health care providers would step up to replace them. Experience is not showing that to be true. Gail Collins again:

Jindal cut off $730,000 in Medicaid reimbursements to his state’s two Planned Parenthood clinics, even though neither offers abortion services. They do, however, provide thousands of women with health care, including screening for sexually transmitted infections — a terrible problem in some parts of the state.

No big deal. When the issue went to court, Jindal’s administration provided a list of more than 2,000 other places where Planned Parenthood’s patients could get care.

“It strikes me as extremely odd that you have a dermatologist, an audiologist, a dentist who are billing for family planning services,”responded the judge.

Whoops. It appeared that the list-makers had overestimated a tad, and the number of alternate providers was actually more like 29. None of which had the capacity to take on a flood of additional patients.

I liked this bit:

When Planned Parenthood leaves town, bad things follow. Ask the county in Indiana that drove out its clinic, which happened to be the only place in the area that offered H.I.V. testing. That was in 2013; in March the governor announced a “public health emergency” due to the spike in H.I.V. cases.

And the clincher:

Sara Rosenbaum, a professor of health law and policy at George Washington University, studied what happened when Texas blocked Planned Parenthood grants and tried to move the money to other providers. Even when there were other clinics in an area, she said, “they were overbooked with their own patients. What happened in Texas was the amount of family planning services dropped. And the next thing that happened, of course, was that unplanned pregnancies began to rise.”

At least, the American Taliban won’t put women in burqas. More likely they’ll mandate modest calico dresses and sunbonnets.


The Best Thing I’ve Read So Far on the Recent GOP Debates.

Obama Administration



Carly Fiorina Is the New Dick Cheney

Obama Administration

From the fallout of the “debate” last night, I take it Republicans are impressed with Carly Fiorina’s performance. Never mind that she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.


… much of what Fiorina says is either untrue or incoherent, which her polished style of rapid-fire answers containing long lists of memorized specifics obscures. She is a master at what we used to call “dazzling them with BS.” She claims to have a well thought out plan for everything from dealing with the Ayatollah (only after conferring with her “good friend” Bibi Netanyahu) — by calling him up and demanding that he allows Americans to inspect his nuclear facilities anytime we choose or we’ll start “moving his money around the financial system” — to enlarging the sixth fleet and putting missile defense into Poland. The first bit of magical thinking is so common among the Republican candidates that it’s not worth commenting upon except to say that the presidency would be a part time job if it was that easy. As for her military “prescriptions,” let’s just say they are vacuous nonsense. Here’s what she said she would do about Russia

“What I would do, immediately, is begin rebuilding the Sixth Fleet, I would begin rebuilding the missile defense program in Poland, I would conduct regular, aggressive military exercises in the Baltic states. I’d probably send a few thousand more troops into Germany. Vladimir Putin would get the message. By the way, the reason it is so critically important that every one of us know General Suleimani’s name is because Russia is in Syria right now, because the head of the Quds force traveled to Russia and talked Vladimir Putin into aligning themselves with Iran and Syria to prop up Bashar al- Assad.”

That sounds very impressive, except, as Ezra Klein pointed out, the nuclear armed Sixth Fleet is gigantic already, the U.S. is already conducting military exercises in the Baltics and we already have 40,000 troops in Germany. Oh, and Vladimir Putin, General Suleimani and Bashar al-Assad will have been dead for decades, if not centuries, by the time a missile shield is installed in Poland.

But she lies with total conviction and authority. Charles Pierce:

She was steely-eyed in her prevarication. She was relentless in her determination to launch pure crapola into the stratosphere. She smiled rarely. She glowered effectively. The woman stares daggers better than anyone I’ve ever seen. And, on many occasions, she lied her ass off with a formidable brand of armored certitude. If you eliminate “telling the truth” from the assessment, Carly Fiorina was every bit the winner she is universally acclaimed to be this morning.

It’s the Dick Cheney thing — exude enough gravitas, and people will take you seriously even if you are spouting nonsense.

The most egregious lie was about Planned Parenthood, which was so bizarre I don’t even want to repeat it. Just see Sarah Kliff. See also Carly Fiorina won the GOP debate, but fact checkers will have a field day.

As for her alleged skill as a businesswoman: Not only did she run Hewlett-Packard into the ground; she’s apparently responsible for the demise of Lucent. See Carly Fiorina’s troubling telecom past.


GOP Feels the Bern

Democratic Party

Apparently over the weekend certain Powers That Be decided that Bernie Sanders needed to be taken down. Sanders has benefited from being mostly ignored by the GOP, which has focused its guns on Hillary Clinton. But in the past couple of days several rightie spokesmouths have spread disinformation on Bernie, and soon the MSM will follow suit (see Steve M).

The Wall Street Journal ran a screaming headline saying Price Tag of Bernie Sanders’s Proposals: $18 Trillion: Democratic presidential candidate’s agenda would greatly expand government. The wingnut war cry “Tax and Spend!” is ringing in my ears already.

The ever-sensible Paul Waldman debunks this by pointing out that he’s proposing things we are already paying for. Sanders wants to change how we are paying for them.  “We shouldn’t treat his proposals as though they’re going to cost us $18 trillion on top of what we’re already paying,” Waldman says. Further,

And there’s another problem with that scary $18 trillion figure, which is what the Journal says is the 10-year cost of Sanders’ ideas: fully $15 trillion of it comes not from an analysis of anything Sanders has proposed, but from the fact that Sanders has said he’d like to see a single-payer health insurance system, and there’s a single-payer plan in Congress that has been estimated to cost $15 trillion. Sanders hasn’t actually released any health care plan, so we have no idea what his might cost.

But this takes me to a long-standing gripe of mine. Whenever anyone talks about government subsidized health care, people get hysterical because they see their taxes going through the roof. What they don’t consider is that just about any taxpayer-supported national health care system would result in more money staying in their pockets, even if they are paying more in taxes. That’s because they wouldn’t be shelling out their own money to pay for medical care and health insurance. And a national not-for-profit system could save us all a ton of money through economies of scale.

The system we have now is wasteful, bloated and inefficient. We’re spending tons more money than people in other countries and getting less care for it.

See also “U.S. Healthcare Ranked Dead Last Compared to 10 Other Countries.”

Young folks complain about paying for Medicare, but they don’t consider that without Medicare they’d be stuck paying off their parents’ medical debts, which often will run into six figures.

And then there’s college. We’re choking off our future as a nation, IMO, by allowing a college education to be so prohibitively expensive. Sanders wants to make it free, which I support, but even making it reasonable will do. Let’s at least go back to the time in which people could put themselves through college with a part-time job. Which was as recently as 1979, according to this article, which is worth reading. (I would have guessed more like 1969, but I haven’t crunched numbers.)

People who don’t have children to put through college, or who aren’t interested in college, might balk at helping others pay for it. But it’s good for the country in the long run to encourage people to get as much education as they are capable of learning. A nation of under-educated yahoos will not remain economically competitive forever.

Back to health care. Waldman:

So let’s say that Bernie Sanders became president and passed a single-payer health care system of some sort. And let’s say that it did indeed cost $15 trillion over 10 years. Would that be $15 trillion in new money we’d be spending? No, it would be money that we’re already spending on health care, but now it would go through government. If I told you I could cut your health insurance premiums by $1,000 and increase your taxes by $1,000, you wouldn’t have lost $1,000. You’d be in the same place you are now.

By the logic of the scary $18 trillion number, you could take a candidate who has proposed nothing on health care, and say, “So-and-so proposes spending $42 trillion on health care!” It would be accurate, but not particularly informative.

And, again, with economies of scale, and reducing the profit-taking, we really ought to be able to get more medical bang for the buck than we have been these past many years. The ACA helped, but it was just a tweak compared to what’s really needed.

There’s something else to keep in mind: every single-payer system in the world, and there are many of them of varying flavors, is cheaper than the American health care system. Every single one. So whatever you might say about Sanders’ advocacy for a single-payer system, you can’t say it represents some kind of profligate, free-spending idea that would cost us all terrible amounts of money.

Put another way, most of the time when people talk about health care reform they are just talking about moving the bills around. You can pay for it through taxes, or through insurance, or out of your own pocket, but you’re still paying for it. The cost doesn’t go away unless you tackle the systemic reasons why there’s so much cost. The ACA partly does that; no Republican proposal ever does.

Meanwhile, Jeb! is promising more voodoo economics. Krugman:

The Jeb! tax plan confirms, if anyone had doubts, that the takeover of the Republican Party by charlatans and cranks is complete. This is what the supposedly thoughtful, wonkish candidate of the establishment can come up with? And notice that the ludicrous claim that most of the revenue effects of huge tax cuts would be offset by higher growth comes from economists who, like Jeb!, are very much establishment figures – but who evidently find that the partisan requirement that they support voodoo outweighs any fear of damage to their professional reputations.

See also the view from nowhere in the Washington Post: Jeb Bush’s new tax plan could cost $3.4 trillion over next decade.



Obama Administration

The usual whackjobs want to attempt another government shutdown over funding Planned Parenthood.

Kim Davis goes back to work tomorrow. I’m saying she’ll go back to denying marriage licenses. She’s having way too much fun to stop.



Stuff to Read

Obama Administration

More articles on charter schools and what a rip-off they are.

Jeb’s charter school calamity: How the former Florida governor forged an industry of chaos and corruption

Take that, charter schools: Why a Washington court decision will force accountability to a movement that needs it badly

The more I learn about this stuff, the more I’m persuaded charter schools are a five-alarm scam.

Also: Read about how Republicans are doing everything they can to eliminate verifiable facts and data from policy decisions.

Also: The more I read about Jeremy Corbyn, the better I like him.


Another 9/11

September 11

A New York Times headline asks, “Will we always remember 9/11?” The article is about the health care and compensation programs for responders and other survivors, which Congress appears willing to let lapse again.

But the question caused me to reflect on memory, and that we’re not all remembering the same day. We’d like to think that our memories are objective recordings of actual events, but they are not. I think memories are narratives we have crafted from our subjective impressions, and I suspect we all “remember” some things that never happened, or that happened very differently from what we remember.

So it was that as the Bush Administration tried to use 9/11 to hustle us into war in Iraq, the pro-war argument was “have you forgotten?” But the people asking that question were the ones who had forgotten, or who had too little experience of 9/11 to actually remember it. The war was never popular in New York City, possibly because people there really did remember.

This is one place where myths come from, I believe. “Memories” of real events become infused with meaning, and from the depths of our subconscious Jungian archetypes are summoned to act out that meaning. Eventually the details of the real event become completely lost, and only the archetypes and the reconstructed narrative remain. Modernity and recording technology frustrate this process but don’t stop it. Trutherism might be an example of post-modern myth making; unfortunately, the poor besotted truthers don’t recognize that’s what they’re doing.

At this point we all do remember that a Big Thing happened on September 11, 2001, but our recollections of that event have all become utterly personalized and subjective, so we really aren’t remembering the same thing.

« Older Posts
Newer Posts »

    About this blog

    About Maha
    Comment Policy

    Vintage Mahablog
    Email Me

    Support This Site

    eXTReMe Tracker

      Technorati Profile